Category Archives: United Kingdom

United Kingdom

What makes an image popular?

Human Scale

I posted this image on flickr yesterday – “Human Scale” – and was amazed to see it rise in the views and favs ranks. 10K views and almost 200 “favs” in less than 24 hrs – a factor of 10 more than I normally get! It was taken on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral earlier this year.

Now, it is always flattering to have one’s images liked, and I guess that is partly why we post to social sites.

That said, I am really at a loss to understand why it has become my second most fav’d image on flickr. It’s a nice picture, with a bit of a story. Still, I honestly don’t think it’s the best I have shot.

I have been a member of flickr since 2005, and I have been a bit intermittent in posting there over the years. The picture of a rainbow that I took in 2003 became my most viewed ever picture (61K views and almost 600 “favs”) very early on, when posted in 2005 – and it’s popularity has never been exceeded since. There were far fewer people on flickr then, so it was a lot easier to get “attention”.

I can see why the rainbow was popular, as it’s not often that one can capture almost the complete arc of a “double” rainbow.

However, does that make it a better picture than the first? Who knows. I sometime think that the more I take photographs, the less I understand what attracts people to the work.

Moral of the story?

Shoot what you like, not what you think others will like!


Human Scale – Leica M-P, Noctilux F/1.0, processed in Silver Efex Pro.

Rainbow – Nikon D1x, 17-35mm Nikkor, Lightroom.



Bath is such a great city for photographers – architecturally and street-wise. I have been taking street portraits of the vibrant performers in Bath for some time.


This is Paul, the “pigeon man”.


He attracts the pigeons with a small amount of seed, and they are obviously very happy to be around him. He also brings a great deal of joys to kids and adults alike.


… though sometimes they get a bit lively!

Images taken with Leica M-P (240), Noctilux F/1.0 50mm, and processed in Color Efex Pro

Leica Gallery (LFI)

Very honoured to have a couple of my images featured as Leica “Master Shots”, in the Leica M section.

The images are the middle of the top row (“Doorway”, River Trent, at Burton upon Trent), and the first on the third row (“That’s Surprising …”, from Dublin).

Leica LFI Master Shots

By coincidence, as I am not sure how the site admins decide on such things, I also had two images featured in LFI’s Street Photography” category.

The images are again “That’s surprising …” and “The Nun and the Phone Call”.

Leica LFI Street Photography

Back to the Future – the Nikon F4s

Nikon F4s

I bought the Nikon F4s around the end of 1988, and it was my go-to camera until the D1 broke through the “professional” DSLR barrier at the end of 1999.

To quote Ken Rockwell:

“The indomitable Nikon F4 is the most innovative camera ever introduced by Nikon, or probably anyone. The Nikon F4 is what brought cameras into this modern era. The F4 shattered more new barriers and advanced more technology in bigger steps than Nikon had ever done before, or has ever done since. Nikon’s digital SLRs and F5 and F6 are nice, but still none of them, not even the D3, is as earth-shattering as was the F4 at its introduction.

The F4 is compatible with every lens ever made by Nikon, from the first 1959 non-AI lenses through today’s G lenses. It focuses flawlessly with AF-s and G lenses and will work with the ancient fisheyes that recede into the camera body. It gives matrix metering and automation with all lenses made since 1977 (AI and newer). With a few button pushes, it does stop-down metering and automation with non-AI lenses.

If I’m shooting 35mm film with modern lenses I grab the F6, but if I need to use things like the 42-year-old 7.5mm fisheye I was loaned along with new lenses, out comes the F4.”

The F4 was the world’s first “professional” autofocus camera, the first with a built-in motor drive (over 5 fps) and the first with Matrix metering. It can use one of the widest possible ranges of Nikon lenses (unlike Canon …). And it has all of its controls in traditional “knobs and buttons“. Not an LCD screen to be seen (unless you added the MF-23 data back, which I have but never really figured out).

The F4s is simply an F4 with a bigger battery pack and grip. And it is indestructible.

I defy you not to find the camera “sexy”.

So, why post about it now?

I have been “digital” for ever, it seems, yet the temptation of film is great. Lucky enough to own a Leica M6, that ought to be my camera of choice for getting back into film. But at the weekend I dug out the F4s, with its 50mm F1.4 lens. Maybe not the greatest lens, but it can still take great images. After all, the photographer is the driver, the camera is just the car.

So I got it up and running, loaded the mandatory roll of Ilford HP5 Plus 400, and started pointing the F4s at people and things.

It’s a wonderful camera. Fast, responsive, and ergonomically perfect. Somehow the grips are all in exactly the right place, and, much as I love the Leica M-P (240), and my Nikon D810, the F4s just melts into the hand. Anyone that’s ever seriously used a camera of any brand will “get” the controls in 15 minutes. And the autofocus, whilst restricted to a centre spot, is very fast.

Has AF technology actually improved since the 80’s?

OK, it can’t do VR. It’s a very positive shutter, with a satisfying “clunk”, but it is not the quietest. The viewfinder is big, better than we often see these days, though in low light can be a bit dull (after all, you actually see the F stop on the lens through a dedicated finder window). And the AF doesn’t glow in the dark, as we are now used to. Even my Leica M-P has red line focus peaking. But that’s about the limit of techno complaint. Hate to say it but it feels like it can really give the M6 a usability run for the money …

Now, I need to see what the images look like. More on that anon.

By the way, the image of the F4s was taken with the Leica M-P and Noctilux 50mm F/1.0 (V4), processed in Color Efex Pro. And that’s the Leica Meet book in the background.

You can get an F4s today on eBay for less than £150 ….

Drawn by Light: The Royal Photographic Society Collection @ The Science Museum


If you haven’t yet been able to see this exhibition, and you are a photographer, then please make this a New Year resolution. It’s at the London Science Museum, until March 1st, 2015.

It’s not just a collection of nice images. It literally traces the history of photography with a unique eye. And whilst it is focused (pardon the pun) on the images, the exhibition also allows visitors to ponder camera technology development, too – not in technical terms, but by showing what the cameras could do.

To quote the website:

Founded in 1853, the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) Collection is now held at the National Media Museum, Bradford as part of the National Photography Collection. With over 250,000 images, 8,000 items of photographic equipment and 31,000 books, periodicals and documents, it’s one of the most important and comprehensive photographic collections in the world.

Early photographers such as Roger Fenton (co-founder of the RPS), William Henry Fox Talbot and Julia Margaret Cameron are represented, alongside modern photographers such as Don McCullin, Terry O’Neill and Martin Parr. Nièpce’s heliographs and Fox Talbot’s experimental cameras are also on display.

“… photography … is used alike by art and science, by love, business, and justice; is found in the most sumptuous saloon, and in the dingiest attic – in the solitude of the Highland cottage, and in the glare of the London gin-palace, in the pocket of the detective, in the cell of the convict, in the folio of the painter and architect, among the papers and patterns of the mill owner and manufacturer, and on the cold brave breast on the battle-field.”

Lady Elizabeth Eastlake, the wife of Charles Eastlake, the first President of the Photographic Society, The London Quarterly Review, April 1857

A very inspirational show, with much to study and learn.

Image: Portrait of Christina, Mervyn O’Gorman, c.1913 © The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL